Guest Post: Feminism and Being a Housewife

Cat Rocketship, the author of this guest post, is maybe like my long-lost twin.  She writes today about how she reconciles being a housewife and being a feminist, and her themes really work well with what I’ve been writing about this week and totally echo Emily’s post – the very first in this series – about being a feminist and changing your last name upon marriage.  You all know by now that I’m a huge advocate of choices, and I believe that the very act of making a choice is the feminist act in any given situation, so hearing from Cat about making the choice to be a housewife and being confident in that decision has warmed my heart and helped me come to terms with some of the things I’ve been discussing here.  I told you before that I didn’t have any answers, but maybe Cat can give you some if that’s what you’re looking for!

I am 26 years old, and I am a feminist housewife.

In my mind a “housewife” is a very specific role, largely influenced by the Nick at Nite shows I watched growing up. Housewives wear aprons around the house – to keep the unseemly muck from cooking and cleaning off their dresses. They wear heels 80% of the day. They have no spending money of their own and have to concoct schemes to loose money from their husbands’ hands. Housewives often get into humorous jams as a direct result of their poor spatial reasoning skills. And although the kids are a job all their own, when the kids are gone there’s plenty of leisurely time to read Better Homes & Gardens.

Granted, I recognize that this perception is wayyyyyy off. Similarly granted, I’m not a “typical” housewife – if there is one – let’s say I’m no fictional Nick-at-Nite housewife. I’m a work-from-home artist who chose to be in this position, with this label. I like the challenge of it.

Still, having grown up a tomboy-only-child-of-a-feminist-father, it’s hard to reconcile myself with what I see as my new role of Housewife. I never, ever, not even 6 months ago, thought I would be one. I do work during the day, but I work from home and I consider a large portion of the household chores to be my responsibility – if only because they’re more convenient for me to take care of.

I do “housewife” things: cook, clean, garden. I get groceries and daydream about area rugs. I make dinner for my husband. But I also research deck staining and lawn care, fix broken screens and mow the yard. And the bottom line is this: My husband didn’t ask me to do this. If I woke up one morning and knew that the path to my happiness was a 60-hour-a-week-job, he’d drive me to the interview, then congratulate me on my new position and start making his own dinners again.

And here is the bottom line:

Feminism is: being empowered to do whatever you want, regardless of your gender.

There are as many schools of thought on feminism as there are feminists, chauvinists, scholars and comedians in the world. But personally, I believe that feminism isn’t a new mold for women to fit into. It makes me sad to see so many women, mostly young women, fret over whether or not they are “good feminists”. I firmly believe that being a feminist is no more complicated than the mantra that my dad instilled in me since I was tiny: You can do whatever you want. Never let anyone tell you that’s not true. My dad changed story characters to girls, uses the pronoun “she” in discussing hypothetical people of power, and never really let me know that there was a gender divide in anything. I also have to thank him for never making any job that a woman had of her own choosing seem undignified.

And you know where that got me? I’m a 26 year old housewife. And it would be downright unfeminist of me to think that choosing to do what I do at this point is low, or limiting. You can do whatever you want does not continue on to say as long as you’re a doctor or an astronaut.

Because this is what I want to do, and having a solid feminist foundation gave me the cajones to make this job meaningful, something that I take pride in.

Cat Rocketship is an artist, organizer, and housewife in Des Moines, Iowa. She blogs about being a housewife at hipsterhousewife.tumblr.com, about painting at catrocketship.com, runs indie craft extravaganza Market Day, and reads the internet. All of it.

This was a guest post in the series on feminism and relationships and feminism and _____.  If you’d like to submit a guest post for these series, see the guidelines here and submit your post to samsanator(at)gmail(dot)com.

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Feminism and Being a Housewife

  1. 100% agreed. My friend works from home (runs a horse farm) and she is only able to do that because she decided to stay home with her children. She once told me that she thought I didn’t believe it was a real job cus I’m a feminist and career focused. I laughed and told her feminist or not, I could NEVER do what she does; waaaaaay too hard!

  2. love it! i’ve also done it all…had the career, had a business, had a baby and today i’m most happy working part time! its all about what is best for your situation. and the first and most important is the fact that i’ve CHOSEN this lifestyle! great job!

  3. It occurred to me while reading this that i might be one of those women that Cat has seen calling themselves “bad feminists.” I could – and will – write an entire blog post about this, but i just wanted to thank Cat for writing this and say that i agree completely, despite what i may have written in the past.

  4. diane on

    “Feminism is: being empowered to do whatever you want, regardless of your gender.”
    Bravo!! This is exactly what I believe feminism is. I am single, 27, and never want to marry or have children. But I firmly believe I am as much of a feminist as the woman who, like you, chooses to be a housewife. Or the woman who is happy having 25 partners. Or the woman who decides to be a nun. We all decide. Deciding is what makes us feminists.

  5. Thanks for this. I’ve just discovered this blog, and I’m very much enjoying it. The one thing I would add to your excellent post is that many women’s choices are constrained by economic realities. I would quit my job in a red-hot minute to stay at home with my toddler, but we depend on my job to provide health insurance for her and me. (I suppose that I could choose for us to go without health insurance, as some families do, but that is not a risk I’m willing to take.) I’m not working outside the home because I’m a feminist—though I am—I’m doing it because we need to pay the mortgage! I know other women who would love to work outside the home, but the cost of daycare for two or more children makes it prohibitive. When we discuss the choices that women make, I think it’s key to remember that those options don’t exist in a vacuum.

    • What you say is so true! Economy is such a terrible reality, and it forces most of us to make choices we don’t want to make. But I think that as long as we are aware of the impact of the environment on us, we are not losing or feminist approach to life. Maybe I can’t work outside home right now, and you have to, but both of us are aware that we are making the best choice we can make.

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